Students & Soldiers
Many former students wrote to their alma mater during their time as soldiers, including stories of their life in the military. The following are selections from the Studentsky Listy.
Private Louis Chihak was a "doughboy," a slang term for a foot soldier or infantryman in the Great War. He writes of capturing 1900 prisoners of war.
Corporal George Vano writes of the usefulness of the military drills at St. Procopius College, and teases a current student, Bobot, about it.
Excerpt: "The drilling I went thru at Lisle under Capt Getz round about the Seniors' campus, helped me a great deal. When we went out to practice here for the first time, you should have seen the mix-up. That was where I had the laugh on the other fellows. I did not then regret the start we got at the College. Bobot [a current SPC student] ought to get wise, and parade around the baseball field with a broomstick, because he will be in the next draft."
Joseph Mach, 1910, wrote a lengthy letter. He was stationed in France with the Trench Mortar Battery. It was printed on two pages of the Studentsky Listy, and is presented here in two separate pieces as well. This first passage talks about his trip across the Atlantic on the way to France.
Excerpt: "'Mighty" alone does not supply strength enough as an adjective with Atlantic. The monstrous ships, nearly 700 feet long, on those mighty waters cannot be compared with a fishing bobbin. We had three days of stormy weather, when hills are mere knolls in comparison with the huge waves we witnessed. Then we had to eat our meals, sitting on the deck, as we could not keep from sliding about... One thing I am proud to say, that there was not as much as a spark of fear anywhere and at any time amongst us."
Joseph Mach's letter, continued from above, goes on to describe the arrival of the troops in France, and the reception given to the soldiers.
Excerpt: "There were girls in the windows waving American flags, children and elderly women, and soldiers, all full of gladness to see their new allies. Then as we passed thru town we threw pennies to the children and enjoyed ourselves in seeing them scramble for them. As we went, we sang 'Good-by Broadway, Hello France.'"
William Adler writes from a hospital in France of his experience dodging rockets and machine gun volleys.
Excerpt: "Gee Boy! Did I have the 'shakes' that first time, to hear those whistle-berries whiz by, and the 60-pounders of H.E. bursting on all sides! [an H.E is a 'highly explosive' rocket launched from a tank] and they told me this was a quiet sector; oh boy! ...'old Fritz' [the Germans] fell back into a wood and fought us with machine guns like the devil. And I, like a dub, accidentally forgot myself and stepped on one of those machine-gun berries with the result that I landed in a hospital where I am now."
In this excerpt, John Halvelka writes of envying the students their "easy" life. The last sentence in this passage is from the editors at the Studentsky Listy.
For information on Homer, a Greek poet: Ancient Greece, accessed 12-12-2013 http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/People/Homer/; for information on Livy, or Livius, a Roman historian: Lendering, Jona, Livius: Articles on Ancient History, last modified on 17 Aug 2013, acessed 12-12-2013 http://www.livius.org/li-ln/livy/livy.htm
J. J. Zacek, class of 1914, writes of escaping the draft because his civilian position on a railroad was considered to be crucial for the homefront.
Excerpt: "Uncle Sam did not take me into the army, on account of my occupation. At present I am working for the U.P.R.R., working up to be a conductor."